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Appellate considerations stemming from res judicata consequences of domestic abuse or contempt findings

The doctrine of res judicata prevents the relitigation of issues previously decided between the same parties. The doctrine requires three essential elements: (1) the judgment must be final, valid and on the merits; (2) the parties in the subsequent action must be identical to those in the first; and (3) the second action must involve […]

Availability for family court mediations

Given Chief Justice Beatty’s order allowing mediation via videoconferencing, I can mediate family court disputes throughout South Carolina through zoom. Until the courts reopen I am willing to mediate for $250 per hour, including an hour for prep. My current availability is: March 30-31, April 1-3, 6-10, 13-16, 20-24, 27-30, May 1. Please contact me […]

The COVID-19 crisis is revealing the selfishness of the anti-vaxxer movement

I’ve never had much tolerance for most of the anti-vaccination parents I encounter practicing child custody law. Not only are their views on vaccinations anti-science and highly selective of discredited research–I see a lot of that these days–but they’ve always struck me as selfish. The public health crisis created by COVID-19 has hardened this view. […]

Family court “emergencies” in the COVID-19 era

In a pair of March 18, 2020 orders, South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty cancelled all family court terms of court through May 1, 2020, and limited family court proceedings to “emergency matters.” I hear from other attorneys that, with this knowledge, some parents have begun refusing visitation or refusing to return […]

Visitation denial in the COVID-19 era

COVID-19 is the first airborne global pandemic to take place since the development of specialized family courts in the United States. Never before has mandated social distancing interacted with the awesome contempt powers of family court visitation orders. Thus, I am getting numerous questions about complying with visitation orders from custodial parents who are considering […]

“Force majeure” as a defense to family court contempt

Given the impact on the new coronavirus on South Carolina businesses, I’ve had more than one client ask me about paying court-ordered support obligations at a time when their income has withered. For clients with the savings to cover a few months worth of these obligations, I tell them to keep paying. For clients who […]

Buying the child(ren)’s time

There’s a never discussed but occasionally employed litigation strategy of using money to purchase time with (or limit an opposing party’s access to) children. Earlier this month I settled a case in which grandparents used money to keep their own daughter from having enforceable visitation with her daughters. At the time of mediation my clients […]

Softening up an unrealistic defendant

I began trial in a visitation establishment case yesterday. While preparing for trial earlier this week my client (the plaintiff) asked me how I thought the case would end. I informed him it would likely settle halfway into my cross examination of the defendant. I was unduly pessimistic. About 15% of the way into my […]

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